Failed a field sobriety test? It may not be accurate

On Behalf of | Feb 4, 2020 | Field Sobriety Tests

When you were stopped by an officer, he asked you for a breath sample. You took the Breathalyzer test, which came back at .06%. By law, you weren’t over the per-se limit, but you did, allegedly, seem impaired.

The officer decided to have you perform field sobriety tests, because he would need to collect more evidence to arrest you. Not surprisingly, he told you that you failed.

Are field sobriety tests legitimate?

To at least some degree, yes. The tests have been scientifically proven in around 90% of cases, but only when the officer administering the tests is trained to do so.

The Standard Field Sobriety Test, also known as SFST, is made up of three tests. These include the one-leg stand, walking and turning, and horizontal gaze nystagmus tests.

There are problems with these tests, though. Although they have the potential to be accurate in some cases, the reality is that there are many other reasons why someone might fail them. For example, a person with vertigo might fail the one-leg stand test or the walk-and-turn test. Someone with a neurological condition may fair the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

Of the tests, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test is arguably the most accurate, but it’s still only accurate in 77% of cases where test subjects had a blood-alcohol content of .10% or higher, according to research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

How accurate are the walk-and-turn and one-leg stand tests?

Not very, in comparison to the HGN test. The walk-and-turn test is only around 68% accurate for those with a BAC of .10% or higher. The one-leg stand test is only around 65% accurate, according to the same study by the NHSTA.

Usually, it’s the goal of officers to make sure that they have enough evidence if they’re going to arrest you. Having two failed sobriety tests and a .6% BAC might be enough. However, you may also have other explanations for why you’d fail, like having a health condition that doesn’t allow you to complete the field sobriety tests accurately.

Your attorney is there to protect you

Your attorney’s job is to step in and make sure that any test was not only given correctly but also an appropriate number of times. They will make sure your traffic stop was legal, and they will focus on showing why you might not have been intoxicated despite failing a field sobriety test.

National College for DUI Defense | General Member

Committed Criminal Defense In Charleston And Mt. Pleasant

Leading DUI defense representation you can rely on for 24/7 responsiveness, tenacious advocacy and extensive legal knowledge.